Venezuela’s Health Minister Carlos Alvarado participated on Tuesday in the ALBA-TCP Health Social Council’s special meeting, themed “United against COVID-19,” where he shared the strategy implemented by the Bolivarian Government to address the COVID-19 pandemic and discussed the challenges for 2021.
“We need to help each other, as provided for by the founding act of this integration bloc, and overcome the pandemic and all the health and social problems in the region,” said the Venezuelan health minister.
In this regard, Alvarado stressed that defeating the U.S. blockade against Venezuelan and other nations like Cuba is the main challenge.
Venezuelan assets amounting to more than $30 billion have been frozen by international banks, making it impossible for the country to use them to access vaccines against COVID-19.
Minster Alvarado pointed out that an additional challenge is vaccination against novel coronavirus as they have witnessed a terrible, unequal vaccine war making it harder for poor countries to access vaccines.
The post-pandemic economic recovery, further scientific research on COVID-19, new and more effective treatments and the coordination of mechanisms to lift lockdowns in ALBA-TCP member countries were other issues mentioned by the Venezuelan representative as pending tasks for this year.
In his statement, the Venezuelan health minister also explained the keys of Venezuela’s success to deal with the pandemic. Alvarado highlighted the early adoption of measures, the creation of the Presidential Commission for the Prevention and Control of COVId-19, the permanent use of facemasks in public spaces, radical lockdown, suspension of activities, the design and application of protocols since the first cases were detected, and cooperation of China and Cuba.
Other successful measures included the upgrading of health centers, coordination with private clinics and hotels to increase the accommodation capacity and isolation of patients, free treatments for COVID-19 patients, the online Patria System to identify patients and symptoms, the creation of Points of Comprehensive Social Assistance (PASI) on borders to control border crossings, and international, solidarity-based cooperation from multilateral organizations and allied countries through medical supplies and biosecurity.
Minister Alvarado also highlighted the 7×7 lockdown scheme established by President Nicolás Maduro which alternates one week of radical lockdown and one week with some restrictions lifted, enabling a better control of the country’s sanitary situation.
The ALBA-TCP Health Social Council’s Special Meeting follows the decision of the 18th ALBA-TCP Summit of Heads of State and Government held on December 14, 2020, to guarantee massive and free access to vaccines against COVID-19 as the regional bloc’s first challenge for 2021.